3 major changes brings Rays playoffs next year

The Rays have most of what they need from within the organization.  The Rays have two outfields in AAA that are ready to start, and a shortstop and utility player.  They have a good bullpen arm in AA and another one working his way back from Tommy John.  Starting pitching abounds.  But there are 2 positions that need to be filled from elsewhere.


1)  Catcher.  There is absolutely no way Navy is offered arbitration by the Rays.  His production does not match his salary.  Some possible additions:  Mike Napoli, Buster Posey, Ryan Doumit.

It would have been awesome if the Rays could have gotten Napoli in the Kazmir trade, but I don't see the Rays matching up well to make another Angels trade.  Buster Posey only comes if the Rays are willing to trade Bartlett or CC, Upton...but I don't think the Giants would take Upton straight up for Posey.  If this was last year...different story.  But the trade that makes the most sense is for Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit.  Coming off an injury shortened season, Doumit would be a buy-low candidate and has a team-friendly contract (09:$2.05M, 10:$3.55M, 11:$5.1M, 12:$7.25M club option, 13:$8.25M club option ($0.5M buyout), along with the fact that Pittsburgh has been trading off veterans right and left. 

Doumit would cost no more than Navy salary-wise and wouldn't require trading a CC or Barty to make it work.


2)  Closer.  Now, please, this is not a knock on Howell.  He has done well in the role, but the rest of the bullpen has been overused.  A closer can be expensive, but it adds value to the rest of the bullpen.  It pushes Howell into a setup role with Wheeler and Balfour.  It would give the Rays 4 quality late-inning relievers.  Maybe the Rays could resign Choate as their LOOGY and Bradford as the ground-ball specialist on small deals.  I'd rather see the Rays spend money on a closer than resign Aki, or even keeping a CC or Barty.  If this team wants to rely on pitching, then it's important to add as much top-notch pitching as possible.

Possible options:  Bobby Jenks, Heath Bell, Jose Valverde, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, other setup relievers

Jenks will earn too much in his final arb year, Valverde still averages over 10k/IP, but a team like the Cubs might offer him big bucks.  What makes him even possible is none of the big-market teams need a closer;  Boston, both New York teams, Dodgers, Angels--all set on closers.  The odds are he resigns with Houston or goes to the Cubs.  Best shot for the Rays?  Wagner or Putz.  Putz, if healthy, was very very good for Seattle, and this year was most likely an aberration with the Mets.  Wagner, if he still has enough left in the tank, could be a 1 year solution (and a much better option than Percival, because Wagner has a night and day injury history compared to Percy).  Bell would be a great get if available from Padres, but the trade cost would probably be prohibitive.  Wagner or Putz would be good buy-low candidates.  (if you could get either for a 1 yr, 4-5mil deal w/ club option, it would be worth the short-term risk)


What to do with CC, Upton or Barty?  It's easy to speculate, but it depends if any team tries to blow them away with an offer.  But even w/ an off-season of Doumit and Putz/Wagner wouldn't be a bad one. 

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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